Healthy Lifestyle

We at UPMC are committed to providing you with high-quality care. While you are hospitalized, a number of health care team members will provide you with teaching about your condition and health. This page contains some general recommendations and guidelines for your continued health and well-being.

If you have questions about your hospitalization while you are here or after you are discharged, our Patient Relations Department is available to assist you. Call your UPMC hospital’s patient relations representative. Please contact us at any time with questions or concerns.

Basic Lifestyle Tips

To keep healthy, it is important to follow some basic lifestyle tips. Millions of Americans have heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. You also may have one of these conditions. Your doctor and health care team will give you specific instructions for your recovery. The tips in this brochure may help you get started on living a healthier life.

Eating for Good Health

Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can reduce health risks like heart disease and help maintain an ideal weight.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Eat a variety of foods from all food groups every day.
  • Choose a diet moderate in total fat but low in cholesterol, saturated fat, and trans fat.
  • Choose fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit sugar, salt, and alcohol.

Maintaining a healthy weight helps keep your body and heart functioning optimally. Sudden, unexpected changes in weight should be reported to your primary care physician. With certain conditions, such as congestive heart failure (CHF), you should weigh yourself daily and report weight gains to your health care provider.

For nutrition information, contact:

  • Nutrition Services at your UPMC hospital
  • Nutrition Information of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics at 1-800-877-1600

Regular Exercise Has Many Benefits

You should have at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 to 7 days a week. You may need to work up to this goal – any amount of activity is good for you.

Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Potential benefits of regular exercise are to:

  • Maintain or reduce weight
  • Reduce stress
  • Control blood pressure
  • Positively influence diabetes control
  • Gain muscular strength, endurance, and flexibility
  • Positively affect osteoporosis and bone strength
  • Control cholesterol levels

Diabetes Health Care Tips

Take these general tips to stay healthy if you have diabetes:

  • Follow your meal plan.
  • Follow your exercise and activity routine.
  • Take your medicines as directed.
  • Test your blood glucose regularly.
  • Keep your blood glucose as close to normal as possible.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Lose excess weight.
  • Check your feet and skin daily.

Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Disease Health Care Tips

To stay healthy when you have heart failure or cardiovascular disease:

  • Weigh yourself daily. Report to your doctor weight gains of more than 2 or 3 pounds over two days, or 4 to 5 pounds over one week.
  • Take your medicines as directed.
  • Keep your blood pressure near normal.
  • Do not smoke.
  • Check for ankle swelling or abdominal bloating every day. Call your doctor about any new swelling.
  • Follow your exercise and activity routine.
  • Report any shortness of breath to your doctor.

If you are at home, call 911 or your local ambulance service if you experience:

  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

Heart failure diet tips

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet.
  • Avoid table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, etc.; processed foods; and foods higher than 140 mg sodium per serving.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Follow your fluid restriction.
  • Lose excessive weight.

Cardiovascular disease diet tips

  • Follow a heart-healthy diet.
  • Avoid table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, etc.; processed foods; and foods higher than 140 mg sodium per serving.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendation about alcohol.
  • Lose excessive weight.

Coumadin® Management Tips

You may be at risk for developing blood clots. Your doctor may have prescribed Coumadin® (warfarin is the generic name) for you to help prevent blood clots from forming.

Take these tips to stay healthy if your doctor has prescribed Coumadin® for you:

  • It is important to take Coumadin® exactly as it is prescribed by your doctor, at the same time of day, usually in the evening.
  • It is important to have your blood tested (PT/INR) as ordered by your doctor so that your Coumadin® can be adjusted if needed.
  • Diet and medications can affect your (PT/INR) blood test result.
  • Do not take or stop any medications, over-the-counter medication, or supplements except on the advice of your doctor or pharmacist.
  • It is important to keep your Vitamin K intake as consistent as possible.
  • Brush your teeth with a soft bristle toothbrush.
  • Avoid major changes in your diet without first discussing with your doctor.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Coumadin®.
  • Tell all doctors and dentists that you are taking Coumadin®.
  • Coumadin® can increase your risk of bleeding. Please call your doctor if you fall and hit your head, have unusual bruising, prolonged bleeding, chest pain, or difficulty breathing.

Stroke Health Care Tips

Stroke is an emergency. Early recognition of symptoms and seeking medical treatment is important. Recognize the signs of stroke:

  • Numbness, weakness, or inability to move your face, arm, or leg on one side of your body
  • Difficulty in speaking or understanding
  • Sudden blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden, severe, unexplained headache
  • Dizziness or loss of balance, especially with one of the above symptoms

If you are at home, call 911 or your local ambulance service. Stroke is treatable if you seek help right away!

To prevent stroke, a healthy lifestyle is recommended. This includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and following the other tips in this brochure. Early Detection of Cancer Find out about recommended screenings for early detection of cancer. Call the UPMC Cancer Centers Cancer and Information Referral Service at 412-647-2811 or the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.

You can find current information on cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment at www.upmccancercenters.com and www.cancer.org.

Hand Washing and Infection Prevention

The most important step to prevent and control the spread of infections is hand hygiene. Clean your hands often. You can use soap and warm water or a waterless hand sanitizer. Whatever method you choose, you should clean your hands:

  • Before you touch or eat food
  • After you use the bathroom
  • Before you touch or care for healing wounds
  • After you cough, sneeze, or blow your nose

All health care workers who come in contact with you should wash their hands. Please insist that they wash their hands before they give you care.

The hospital staff will use additional infection control measures during your care. They may ask if you have had a flu shot or pneumonia vaccine, so it is a good idea to keep track of this.

Tobacco Use

Each year, 3 million people die as a result of smoking. There is no safe way to smoke. Some people try to make their smoking habit safer by smoking fewer cigarettes or switching to brands with low tar and nicotine. Even when used in small amounts, all cigarettes can cause damage to your body.

If you smoke, you are more likely to die at a younger age. Smoking is not just harmful to you—it is harmful to those around you too.

Smoking is addictive

Some people find smoking enjoyable. The short-term pleasure does not outweigh the harmful effects. The nicotine in cigarettes is addictive.

Bad news about smoking

  • Cigarettes and cigarette smoke contain more than 4,000 harmful ingredients. Many cause cancers.
  • Cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke cause shortness of breath, decreased energy, bone loss, damaged blood vessels, lung cancer and other cancers, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, diabetes complications, chronic lung diseases, heart disease, and impaired circulation.
  • Parental smoking causes low birth weight, premature births, increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and increased risk for learning disabilities. Asthma, bronchitis, and respiratory and ear infections increase in children of smokers.
  • Cigarette smoking is a major cause of deaths from fires.

Where to go for help

It’s hard to fight any addiction, and smoking is no different. It’s never too late to quit. If you want to stop smoking, there are medicines, therapies, and smoking cessation classes available to help you.

  • UPMC Referral Center at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762), option 1
  • UPMC self-help guide Journey to a Smoke-Free Life at www.upmc.com (click Patients and Guests, Patient Education Materials, and then Smoking)
  • UPMC website at www.upmc.com
  • American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345or www.cancer.org
  • Pennsylvania Free Quitline, 24 hours a day at 1-800-QUIT NOW

Good news about quitting

Immediately after your last cigarette:

  • No more burns in clothes, fingers, furniture, and car
  • Healing processes begin.

20 minutes after your last cigarette:

  • Blood pressure lowers.
  • Hands and feet warm up.

8 hours after your last cigarette:

  • Carbon monoxide level in the blood return to normal.

24 hours after your last cigarette:

  • Heart attack risk decreases.
  • Shortness of breath decreases.

3 days after your last cigarette:

  • Family and friends are happy.
  • Taste and smell improve.
  • Skin begins to feel better.
  • Energy improves.

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    For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

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